hey mainstream feminism
call me a maverick but i think we could do better at analysing the intersection of intellectual ableism with misogyny than just a load of neurotypical women complaining that ‘a woman’s IQ is more important than her bra size!’ and ‘little girls are taught it’s more important to be pretty than clever.’
those things are still completely valid tho. conversations about intersectionality can occur without our having to shut down important conversations that are already happening.
But those conversations are the only ones relating to femaleness and intelligence that are regularly heard in mainstream feminism, and they are very shallow and incomplete analyses.
Yes, girls are taught it’s more important to be pretty than clever, and yes, they shouldn’t be taught that they are only valuable on basis of their beauty— but nor should they be taught that they owe people either a certain level of cleverness, or a certain output from their cleverness. Girls—people in general—are not defined by their grades, nor their value in the job market, any more than they are defined by their appearance. Girls should not be taught to judge one another or expected to be judged on basis of appearance, but nor should they be taught that a person is any less worthy of respect if they lack mental skill in a particular area.
Girls shouldn’t be taught to market themselves based on their bodies, or on basis of their brains. They should be taught to recognise themselves as having intrinsic, immeasurable worth; as a human being and not as a commodity.
And it’s important to deconstruct the whole concept of intelligence and the idea that any person, or group of people, is superior on basis of it. There are people with high IQ’s whose ability to function in society is low and who are perceived as “stupid”. There are people with low IQ’s who have incredible mental skill in a few areas. Perceived intelligence is highly linked to class, race and gender. “General intelligence” is nonsense for a great number of people, and can be incredibly harmful in dehumanising people with perceived low “general intelligence”, or pressurising people with perceived high “general intelligence” to do things which are impossible for them due to disability or other factors.
And as for “the size of a woman’s IQ is more important than the size of her bra!”—well yeah, it is. In that intellectually disabled women are often institutionalised, suffer institutional abuse, assault, gaslighting, dehumanisation, denial of basic human rights…….and no woman has ever encountered these things just for having small boobs.
Also, while it’s easy to say that looks don’t matter and shouldn’t matter if you happen to vaguely fit conventional standards of beauty anyway; for many women who don’t fit those conventional standards (due to being physically disabled, “deformed”, very fat, very dark skinned, very hirstute etc.), learning to find themselves beautiful and promote the idea that they are beautiful IS a meaningful act.
This is not less valid.
Promoting body diversity and body positivity and finding all bodies beautiful, is not less valid than doing the same for minds. It’s a different area to focus on; it’s not wrong, or inconsequential, or lesser.
As I say, no woman should feel the need to market herself as a product for other people’s consumption.
But it is valid for a woman to take joy and pride in her own mental skills and her own appearance—especially, it is valuable to do those things if those aspects of her are conventionally devalued, ignored or denigrated.
Focussing on appearance in this regard is not lesser.